Sunday, October 14, 2007

Look me in the Eye by John Elder Robison

This wonderfully-written memoir is fantastic - by turns hilarious and sad. Robison, an "Aspergian" (as he calls himself), grew up at a time when Asperger's Syndrome was not known or diagnosed. For most of his life he wondered what was wrong with him, that he could not connect with or make friends with people. During his twenties, he worked as a sound engineer for bands such as KISS, and his account of that time is quite interesting. Finally, in his 40s, someone suggested that he might have Asperger's. Learning that his quirks and idiosyncracies had an actual diagnosis helped Robison realize that he was not alone. He has also developed a lot of good coping strategies and has painstakingly taught himself to interact more successfully with people. Interestingly, he theorizes that as he learned how to interact better with people, he lost some of his savant-like abilities to look at machinery and circuits and understand how they worked. (If Robison's story sounds a bit familiar, that's because he is the older brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors.)

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